Cubans Are Losing Their Fear / Antonio Rodiles, Estado de Sats
Posted on September 27, 2013
By Carmen Muñoz for ABC.es
To Antonio G. Rodiles (born Havana, 1972) it seemed “unthinkable” that a
Cuban musician would dare to ask for free elections during an official
concert, until the jazz musician Roberto Carcassés did it last week in
the capital. “It’s a sign of the new times,” said this physicist,
director of the Estado de SATS (State of SATS) think tank, and
coordinator of the citizen campaign For Another Cuba. The arrest of the
human rights activist over 19 days last November, accompanied by a
brutal beating, had wide repercussions.
After participating in Prague in a forum about transitions, this Friday
he will meet in Madrid with the Secretary of State for Latin America,
Jesus Gracia, and speak at the Real Instituto Elcano. His biggest
challenge now is the international meeting on human rights that he is
preparing for this December 10 in Havana. “If now they let us (the
dissidents) travel. Why don’t they let Cubans and interested foreigners
enter the country to participate in a civil society activity. We
challenge the system to demonstrate whether it is really changing or
not.” This Saturday he returns to the island.
- Do you think Roberto Carcasses incident has ended with the sanction
imposed by the regime?*
AR: Robertico Carcassés will just have to deal with it, the regime is
waiting for the storm to pass to go after him. He has put on numerous
concerts, inside and outside the island, and has never put on any
demonstrations like this, even though people know that neither he nor
his father (the showman Bobby Carcassés) are unconditional supporters of
the regime, like Silvio Rodriguez. His daring is a sign that times are
changing in Cuba, people want substantial changes, of greater
significance, the current ones are just superficial. Cubans are losing
their fear, they are daring more, 54 years of a totalitarian regime is
too much time. They now understand that for there to be changes the
system must change. What Carcassés did was unthinkable, he didn’t do it
as an act of suicide.
- Did the singer Silvio Rodriguez challenge the dictatorship by inviting
Carcassés to his concerts?
AR: Silvio tried to throw water on the fire, to find the smartest
solution for the system. The censorship of Carcassés censorship would
have implied that the news of the act of free speech had acquired major
notoriety, counterproductive for the regime.
- What message about the Cuban reforms did you send to Spain?
AR: They are totally inadequate, especially when the country is
undergoing such an crisis. For Cuba not to collapse we need to undertake
structural changes that would imply accepting all the political,
economic, social and cultural rights contained in the UN covenants to
enter into a real transition process.
- What do you think the appeal this week from the Cuban Catholic Church
for political changes to accompany the economic?
AR: Recently the Church has taken an unwise position. However, it seems
very important to me as a political actor and it would be highly
recommended to begin to focus on and respect the fundamental rights in
Cuba. If that happens, it could play a vital role in the short and
- Do the new times also affect the dissidence?
AR: There is a rethinking of many points of strategy, of projection,
that may have had something to do with the ability to make contact with
the outside world through immigration reform. Opponents can travel and
make contact with politicians from other countries, Cubans abroad …
which leads to a new scenario.
- And to repression?
AR: They have changed their tactics but continue doing it. Now it’s
surgical, focused on the projects and actors that the Government
considers dangerous to its totalitarian hegemony of power. There are
still beatings, large operations to block the opposition from attending
events, and short duration arrests. Lately they don’t even take those
the arrest to police stations, they abandon them in inhospitable places.
State of SATS and For Another Cuba
During the summer of 2010, Antonio G. Rodiles launched this “think tank
mixed with art” in order to “create a public space for discussions” in
Cuba among intellectuals, artists and human rights activists . A group
of eight people, among them the writer and political prisoner Angel
Santiesteban, coordinate exhibitions, documentaries, debates or videos
that seek to impact the civil society.
From these discussions, emerged the idea of promoting the For Another
Cuba campaign, with the objective of urging the Castro regime to ratify
and implement two United Nations covenants on civil and political
rights, and on economic, social and cultural United Nations. The creator
and director of Estado de SATS adds that “its implementation is a kind
of road map to begin the transition from the recognition of fundamental
*After this interview the regime withdrew the sanction — that he would
not be allowed to perform in public — against Robertico Carcassés.
Source: ABC.ES. Interview originally published on 9 September 2013
Source: “Cubans Are Losing Their Fear / Antonio Rodiles, Estado de Sats
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